My Recent Return to Donetsk, How is it There, Really?

I recently returned to Donetsk, Donbass, after spending an intense 2-month period working in Crimea.  I was primarliy in the DPR to do a distribution of humanitarian aid to children’s homes, which was done, to huge success.

I’ll soon be returning to Crimea for another period of reportage, but it was a real pleasure to spend some time in Donetsk, walk around the city I’ve spent so much time in, covered so many events from.
What to say about life in Donetsk, honestly? Well, there can’t be any fairytales about a ‘booming’ DPR, apart from that shelling still goes on on the perimeters, with almost daily damage, regular casualties, and sometimes fatalities. However, the city lives, most shops are now open, people are on the streets. There’s no real confusing it with normal life, there’s a certain tension, which could hardly be any other given an ongoing war situation. But, as I say, life goes on – 

Despite the circumstances, the people of Donetsk are as friendly as ever. I ran into these bright young things on the city’s main Artema St, with them just back from the World Festival of Youth and Students, in Sochi. 

And the city itself is not without brighter things in life, when I was there, a show ‘Fashion without Borders’, showcasing the work of local designers –

So, as I say, you couldn’t really say that it was ‘business as usual’, but in a lot of ways, Donetsk looks like any other – people are in cafes, cars are on the roads, people on the  streets, and so on. However, true to say, a fair amount of shops still shuttered, no working banks, apart from local, and curfew. But, there’s no real military presence, the days I was there, no audible shelling from the centre, and in general, people just trying to get on with their lives, hoping for something to resolve this already protracted, egregious, unnecessary situation…

War Child UK – They Pick and Choose their Wars…

I recently began a series of reports documenting Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass, including those against children – over 100 children killed by Ukrainian military action in Donbass, many more maimed. One of the main aims of this project is to get a comment from one of the many organisations dedicated to protecting the rights of those in war, in many cases the rights of children.

I started off with War Child UK, an organisation with a high-media profile, very active on social media. About them, here, from wikipedia:

War Child
 is a non-governmental organisation founded in the UK in 1993 which provides assistance to children in areas experiencing conflict and the aftermath of conflict. The establishment of War Child UK was soon followed by organisations in Canada and the Netherlands.

I tweeted War Child with a link to my report, many times, asking for their comment on this. My tweets to War Child were either retweeted or liked, around 1500 times. Meaning War Child were notified of it around 1500 times. But still, stony silence from them. Meanwhile, War Child were tweeting about wars in Syria, Yemen, Africa, and more – read all about that here. But completely ignoring Donbass. Not even an acknowledgement.

Meanwhile, war in Donbass goes on, people are still being killed by shelling, just the other day, 3 children orphaned as Ukrainian shelling hit in Gorlovka, Donbass, killing their father.  But, it’s safe to say that War Child do not care about this at all.

Is it political, is Donbass just not a trendy enough war? Questions for War Child, which it seems certain they won’t answer. War Child pick and choose their Wars, Donbass is clearly not one.

My series will continue, the search for an agency who will comment will continue. One down. 

Anger, Condemnation: Boris Johnson, Catalonia, and Donbass

This week, on the fringes of the Conservative annual conference in Manchester, Uk Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cracked a joke about the Libyan city of Sirte, becoming the next Dubai if they could ‘clear the dead bodies away’. The remark, of course tasteless, and insensitive, and that’s Boris, drew anger, and condemnation from a number of sources:

On Sunday 1st October, violence in Catalonia by the Spanish police, aimed at crushing the independence referendum of that day which delivered a 90% ‘yes’ vote, resulted in around 900 injured. It resulted in a tidal wave of outrage, condemnation, and more – from the media, politicians, commentators, groups, Joey Barton – a sampling of that here – 

 

So the west can certainly condemn when it wants to. But the condemnation, and attention, in the case of Catalonia, from one day of beating, easily surpassed that directed at Donbass, for over 3 years of war there, and ongoing shelling of civilian areas, by Ukrainian forces.

In August of 2014, Ukrainian forces destroyed a truck carrying refugees fleeing from the war, killing at least 17 – mostly women and children –

I’ve written about that here:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/22/18-children-killed-by-ukrainian-war-crimes-in-donbass-1-marina-refugee-bus/

It was condemned by the US:

U.S. State Department condemns Ukraine convoy shelling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department condemned the deadly shelling of a convoy in eastern Ukraine on Monday that killed dozens of people,

but, but….

but said it could not confirm who was responsible for the attack.

This attack was 100%, clearly by Ukraine, who made no real attempt to even deny it. But, that’s ok, the west has got them covered. 

From October 2014 –  Ukraine crisis: Red Cross condemns Donetsk shelling

However, they only did this because one of their own members was killed. And they let Ukraine off the hook with the classic get out – ‘The rebels and the government blamed each other for the shelling.’

But look at January 2015, when shelling hit the city of Mariupol, in Donbass, killing arond 30 civilians. The OSCE were quick, not only to condemn:

OSCE Chief Monitor in Ukraine condemns Mariupol shelling as reckless, indiscriminate and disgraceful attack on innocent civilians, including women and children

Both sides indeed blamed each other for this. Evidence was presented to support both claims. Yet the OSCE just went ahead and blamed ‘the rebels’ –

OSCE mission report: Mariupol shelled from rebel-controlled territory

None of the ‘both sides blame each other’ here…

In February of this year, in a warzone, the OSCE – based in Kiev, and generally regarded as doing surveillance for Ukraine, pitched up near a Donbass block-post and attempted to fly their drone, without permission. They were told not to do that, as you can imagine in pretty strong terms, by DPR members.

This result in more condemnation: Ukraine conflict: US condemns threat to OSCE monitors

So, we can see, the west can condemn when it wants to. It can even condemn in Donbass. However, it only does so when one of their own is affected, or they can blame the ‘pro-Russian rebels’ for something.

As for Boris, no condemnation from him, for Catalonia, and of course not for Donbass. And due to the actions of Boris, there are more ‘dead bodies to clear away’, there.

However, no condemnation from the west for any of that.

Donbass, Referendums, and a Truly Horrible Situation

A few words about the complications of filming in Donbass, early 2014. I made hundreds, really hundreds of videos from there, which were seen all over the world, on the news, and more, of people saying they didn’t want Ukraine, wanted a referendum, wanted the Donetsk, Lugansk People’s Republic, and more.

Had a referendum, voted for the DPR, LPR. No one in the west listened, actually they supported Ukraine against them.
Then, in July of 2014, Ukrainian forces took a lot of these towns and cities – Mariupol, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and set about a campaign of ‘cleansing’ of separatists. People were beaten, people disappeared.
I removed all the videos I’d made which may have put people still there in a position of danger. But, my videos had already been put everywhere, I wrote to people asking them to remove them. And of course, not only my videos – there were many, many videos made at this time, and most still online.

A video which one month tells the world the truth, the next month can put their life in danger. A really horrible situation.

Here, Slavyansk, April 2014: 

(18+) Catalonia Referendum, and the Donbass Referendum Double-Standard

Catalonia has declared a ‘yes’ vote for independence, with just over 90% of the total of 2,262,424 votes in favour of seceding from Spain. 

With Catalonia now close to declaring independence, we now wait to see if the world will accept. However, this isn’t the only referendum on self-determination in recent times to gain over a 90% vote in favour. On May 11th, 2014, a referendum was held across Donbass, to break away from a Ukraine which had in February 2014, installed an unelected, far-right government, and in April 2014, sent in military force to Donbass to crush those who protested. 

Actually, this, just one video from Mariupol, May 9th 2014, when Ukrainian forces went into Mariupol, and opened fire on those celebrating Victory Day.

More about that later, for now, a look at the referendum itself, in which tens of thousands of people queued for hours to cast their vote, voting 90%, as in Catalonia, to be part of the Donetsk People’s Republic. I’ve had to blur the videos, because no one listened to these people, and Ukrainian forces captured the city soon after.

This voter tells me: ‘We want to live apart from Ukraine’

This man tells me ‘People want freedom, it’s a cry of the soul’

These people declare ‘We are against the Kiev government!’

This man tells me he ‘hates the Ukrainian flag’ – 

What happened after? The west simply dismissed the referendum. Ukrainian forces seized Mariupol, and other towns and cities in Donbass. And those they didn’t seize, they’ve been shelling for over 3 years, with mass loss of life. Here, Lugansk, August 2014, after Ukrainian shelling:

Here, Donetsk, January 2015 after Ukrainian shelling:

Sadly, there are many, many of these videos. Thousands killed in Donbass, and it goes on to this day. Meanwhile, Europe hasn’t just stayed quiet on this, but actively supported it. 

Here’s wishing Catalonia all the very best with their independence result. We all know, that whatever happens, what happened in Donbass will never happen there. So why did it happen in Donbass?

(18+) Children Killed by Ukrainian War Crimes in Donbass (#1) Marina, Refugee Bus

By the most conservative estimates, over 100 children have been killed in the breakaway regions of Donbass, by Ukrainian military action. Yet, the west are silent on this. Why?

Is it because western governments are supporting this?

I am a British journalist, Graham Phillips, who has been covering the war in Donbass for over 3 years. In that time, sadly, I’ve covered the deaths of around 15 children, killed by Ukrainian military action, with many more wounded.

This is the first in a series, documenting children killed by the Ukrainian military.

On August 20th, 2014, mid-afternoon, Marina, 7, and her mother Natalya were queueing for humanitarian aid in the centre of a crisis-hit Lugansk.

Shelling, fired by Ukrainian forces from their positions at the nearby Lugansk airport, hit, seriously wounding Natalya, and blowing off Marina’s leg. A couple of days later, I filmed this interview with Natalya at a Lugansk hospital: full English subs –

Marina was in a coma at this time, she never emerged from that, dying the next morning.

In early September, the 2nd, 2014, I filmed the following scene, by the village of Khryaschuvate, a few kilometres outside of Lugansk. A refugee truck, destroyed on August 18th. Ukrainian forces had pulled over the truck at their blockpost. A member of the Lugansk People’s Militia was escorting the truck, with some 20 mostly women and children trying to flee war, on it.

Upon seeing the member of the people’s militia, Ukrainian forces immediately opened fire on the truck. This was the result, at least 17 killed, in their number, many children, as you can see –

Realising their mistake, the Ukrainian side told a strange, convoluted story about this one. On Tuesday the 19th, they were already declaring to the press that they’d ‘recovered 15 bodies’ from the fatal incident, while trying to blame it on the Lugansk People’s militia. Yet, some two weeks later, I found the above scene – in the meantime, Ukrainian forces had held positions right next to the destroyed truck, with the bodies of its victims scattered around:

Photos here:

These were to be the first, but sadly far from the last time I would see children killed by the Ukrainian military in Donbass. The series will continue.

Please, help to spread this, share this, so more people know the truth about Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass.